Every year my kids Religous School does a marketplace of non-profit organizations on a Sunday morning in November. The agencies each set up a booth in the social hall and the children get to go to each table learning about the different non-profits and what they do. The kids are given play dollars to donate as they choose -- giving a dollar to the Ronald McDonald House, and maybe $2 or $3 to another agency, such as Safe Home or Operation Breakthrough. It's a simple yet brilliant concept.
There is only one problem: I cry. Every year, I cry. Not blubbering or anything, but at each of the booths, standing there with my two beautiful, healthy children, learning about kids at camp because of cancer, or children being abused by their own father, or hearing that children go hungry, I can't help it. How can I be so lucky? How are we so fortunate? And I hope no one will see, but I know Natalie notices I have a lump in my throat while trying to tell her what Safe Home is. How do you explain to a sweet 7 year old girl that some mommies aren't safe in their own home? That they might have to take their two precious kids and leave -- often with none of their belongings, possibly on a moment's notice, and believe that everything will be OK, somehow.
Or that Make a Wish provides these wonderful trips because it is likely that child's last? The smiles at Disney, or on the beach, that we see in the photos just might be all that mommy has now, in her album at home on her kitchen table, holding onto that one memory.
And I'm conflicted: I don't want their fragile innocence broken. I don't want them to know that children die. That daddies hurt mommies, or that children go hungry. But I want them to know how fortunate they are...how much they have to live for, and to have the greatest perspective on life: we are grateful. So, we go, and we give our dollars, and I cry. I hope these small and gentle introductions will help them understand a little about the world without breaking their spirit.
This year I am donating my fabric flower brooches to Safe Home for their Holiday Store. I will take their girls with me to deliver them and hope it'll be another teaching opportunity. Are you doing a holiday giving project with your children? I would love to hear about it.